The Buzz – 1/16/20
From Building to Entrepreneurship
Community leader Quint Studer last Friday shared that he and his wife Rishy are done with building. He said, “We are taking the money from Southtowne and putting it in early childhood development and building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Studer made the announcement at the meeting to launch The Spring, an entrepreneurship hub to be located in the SCI building. The Studers recently sold the Southtowne apartment complex in downtown Pensacola for $60.63 million.
D.C. Reeves has transitioned from serving as Studer’s chief of staff to heading the entrepreneurial initiative. Gracie Woodfin has been hired as the entrepreneurial coordinator, and Sena Maddison of FloridaWest has been helping build an entrepreneurial asset map.
Studer has had Reeves visit several cities and benchmark their entrepreneur efforts. He said, “We’ve found entrepreneurs are looking for affordability, opportunity and vibrancy.”
Reeves explained that The Spring has four primary objectives—1) ensure entrepreneurs in the community are aware of all resources provided to them within the ecosystem, 2) give entrepreneurs the space to build their business, 3) provide prestigious mentoring service to entrepreneurs and their ventures and 4) ultimately help businesses grow and stay in the Pensacola area.
He said, “We will be offering entrepreneurs a space with triage and shared desk area in the SCI building, mentorship with the MIT Venture Mentor Service (VMS) and an accelerator with Gener8tor.”
The Spring VMS is based on the successful model used by the VMS program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is tailored specifically to communities looking to bolster entrepreneurship. Studer Community Institute, UWF Center for Entrepreneurship, Pensacola State College, Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Minority Chamber and FloridaWest have agreed to co-sponsor the effort.
The program will offer confidential team mentoring services to entrepreneurs across the community by pairing entrepreneurs with three to four highly experienced mentors. The mentors will be trained in March and April. The Spring will begin seeking applications for the first 10 companies wanting to be mentored this spring.
Governor Ron DeSantis last week announced that Florida’s 2018-19 graduation rate increased to 86.9%, an increase of 0.8 percentage points over last year and a jump of 27.7 percentage points since 2003-04.
“I applaud Florida’s students, parents and educators for their hard work and dedication that led to these increased graduation rates,” said Governor DeSantis. “While these results are a positive mark of Florida’s upward progress, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. We must continue striving for educational excellence and making Florida the number one state in the nation for education.”
Escambia County’s graduation rate improved to 84.8%, a 4.1-point jump. The gap between ECSD and the state has been closed to a 2.1% difference.
“Credit for this accomplishment goes to a long list of people beginning with our parents, every teacher the student has encountered, school administrators, subject area specialists, academy teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, graduation coaches and, finally, the students themselves who have worked so hard to fulfill all of the requirements for this major milestone,” said ECSD Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.
However, Escambia County still trails the surrounding counties—Santa Rosa County 88.9% and Okaloosa County 87.9%.
The graduation rates show Escambia County still has difficulty graduating its minority students. Black, Hispanic and two or more race students trail the state graduation rates by 2.8-3.8 percentage points.
Further analysis of the data provided by the Florida Department of Education revealed that the Escambia County School District lost 680 students from its 2015-16 freshman class when it came time to calculate the Class of 2019 graduation cohort—a 20.2% decline.
This happened despite the county adding an estimated 6,007 people over the same period of time. The district lost 20% of its white and black students and 30% of its students that are two or more races from 2015-16 freshman class. In contrast, Santa Rosa County picked up 74 students.
How much of the loss made it possible for the Escambia County School District to report a higher graduation rate? Our colleges and universities are measured on retention. Florida public high schools are not.
The Escambia County School District earned 606 points to get a B grade for the 2018-19 school year. The district was tied with Okeechobee County for 51st place out of 67 districts. Of the 25 Florida school districts with more than 30,000 students, only Polk County earned fewer total points than Escambia County.
Free the People
Move to Amend stands together with a coalition of Northwest Florida organizations united against “corporate personhood” on the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. At Free the People, representatives of human rights, environmental and faith-based organizations will gather from noon-1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Martin Luther King Plaza for a silent vigil to recognize the damage to democracy from a decade in which corporations and unions can spend unlimited sums on political messages.
The Citizens United decision granted free speech rights to corporations, allowing unlimited monies from undisclosed sources to influence the political process. “One person—one vote” has been replaced with “one dollar—one vote.”
Examples of what has resulted include healthcare inaccessible to millions, drastically underfunded public education, a college education out of reach for more Americans every year, weakened environmental safety enforcement that allows tragedies like the BP oil spill, stifled development of clean energy, a healthy place to live guaranteed to only some of us and the inability to pass sensible gun safety laws.
Join with Move to Amend in the campaign for a constitutional amendment to abolish the two main issues that are at the root of big money corruption in government. The “We the People Amendment” establishes into law two basic truths—1) A corporation or other artificial entity is not a person with inalienable human rights and 2) Unregulated campaign financing from undisclosed sources is not free speech.
Speakers from Move to Amend and various organizations will be in attendance and able to speak to local media and interested people about Citizens United and the “We the People Amendment.” Organizations in attendance include Move to Amend, NAACP, 350 Pensacola, Movement for Change, Unitarian Universalist Church and others.
Lee Street Project
Construction of the Lee Street Stormwater Improvement Project began Monday, Jan. 13, providing stormwater drainage improvements to mitigate flooding issues in the area.
The project is funded by FEMA through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provided funding due to repetitive flood issues adjacent to the intersection of North F Street and West Lee Street.
Construction is expected to take approximately 140 days, weather permitting. Pensacola City Council awarded a contract to Site and Utility Inc. of Pensacola to complete the project.
The project will include demolition of three residences at 925, 927 and 975 W. Lee St., which were acquired by the city through the HMGP funding. After the residences are demolished, a new stormwater retention pond will be constructed in the vacated area. Underground drainage infrastructure will also be installed to connect the new pond to the existing pond, which will reduce roadway and private property flooding in the local area as a result of high intensity rainfall events.
A city construction inspector will be monitoring the contractor and project progress daily. Every effort will be made to minimize the impact during construction, and the contractor will be required to implement all necessary safety precautions onsite. Residents will be provided access to their property during construction.
IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area had an amazing year in 2019, with 1,166 members awarding a record number of transformative grants in the amount of $106,000 each to 11 nonprofit organizations in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
The 2020 Membership Season for IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area is underway. In January, the organization has multiple IMPACT 100 Membership Events:
– Meet & Greet, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, Pensacola Country Club, 1500 Bayshore Drive
– IMPACT Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 27, 201 E. Zaragosa St.
All ladies 18 years and older are welcome to attend; no invitation necessary. For more information, please visit impact100pensacola.org.
Fat Cat Social
The Pensacola Humane Society’s Mardi Paws Fat Cat Social is scheduled for 5:30-9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Skopelos New World Landing, 600 S. Palafox.
Grab a cocktail and party like a Fat Cat as you dance to the tunes of the Six Piece Suits. A live auction will feature a chance to win an evening at a downtown apartment for the Grand Mardi
Gras Parade. In addition, the winner of a 1971 vintage Volkswagen Beetle will be announced. Tickets for the VW drawing are available online at pensacolahumane.org.
Tickets are $50 per person and attire is cocktail casual. Sponsorships are also available. Visit pensacolahumane.org to purchase tickets or sponsorships. For more information, email email@example.com. All proceeds benefit the work of the Pensacola Humane Society.
The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners is seeking county residents interested in volunteering to be considered for an appointment to the West Florida Public Library Board of Governance.
The duties of the board include establishing policy and overseeing the management of Escambia County library services and making recommendations to the BCC regarding the annual budget according to the purposes and authority set forth in resolutions, interlocal agreements and other agreements, as well as state and federal laws. These duties also include establishing an annual plan of service and the long-range strategic planning of library services.
West Florida Public Libraries provides service to all of Escambia County, with the board typically meeting on the fourth Monday of the month from 4-6:30 p.m.
Residents interested in serving on the board are asked to submit a resume and letter indicating their desire to serve by close of business on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Resumes should be submitted to Todd J. Humble, Director, West Florida Public Libraries, 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola, FL, 32502, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Escambia County Veterans Treatment Court Judge Gary Bergosh is hosting a kick-off event for the Veteran Mentor program 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, Artel Gallery, 223 S. Palafox.
Veterans Treatment Court was initiated in 2015 in Escambia County as a proactive response to justice-involved veterans with non-violent criminal conduct related to mental health and substance abuse issues stemming from military service. The program allows honorably discharged veterans the opportunity to engage in the closely monitored program that requires regular court appearances (a weekly minimum in the early phase of the program), as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use.
“Since establishing Escambia’s Veterans Treatment Court, we have seen decreased incarceration for military veteran non-violent offenders and an increase in the number of veterans receiving substance and mental health assistance,” said Judge Bergosh, a retired Marine Corps officer.
For more information, contact Carol Henry at email@example.com or visit justiceforvets.org.
The 2020 Mayor’s Neighborhood Cleanup Schedule is now available, with the first cleanup of the year scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25, in the downtown area.
Through the Mayor’s Neighborhood Cleanup program, all city neighborhoods have a cleanup once a year during the months of January through October. In addition to Sanitation Services collecting items left at the curb, Code Enforcement conducts a sweep of the cleanup area and addresses any code violations.
The Mayor’s Neighborhood Cleanup allows residents in the cleanup areas to leave eligible items at the curb on cleanup day to be picked up by City of Pensacola Sanitation Services. The cleanup includes bulk items such as household appliances, furniture and mattresses, bicycles and toys, tires and old paint.
More information about each cleanup will be sent out and published on the City of Pensacola website prior to the cleanup date. Residents will also receive a postcard in the mail with their cleanup date.
The Escambia County Animal Shelter is offering a special reduced adoption fee of $50 for all dogs and puppies and $20 for all cats and kittens through Friday, Jan 31. Adoption fees include spay and neutering services, microchip, heartworm test and the initial vaccinations, including rabies vaccinations. Escambia County residents will be required to purchase a license at the time of adoption. This is an additional $11 over the adoption fees and is paid separately.
The Escambia County Animal Shelter is located at 200 W. Fairfield Drive and is open Monday-Friday from noon-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Mark Your Calendar
Architectural Review Board will meet 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St., Hagler-Mason Conference Room, Second Floor.
City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St., Council Chambers, First Floor.
The Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization is hosting a Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Steering Committee meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2nd Floor Conference Room, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.
Commissioner Jeff Bergosh will host his 30th Coffee with the Commissioner from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, Hardee’s, 2500 Wilde Lake Blvd.
Escambia Board of County Commissioners meets 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building, 221 S. Palafox.
Escambia County Democratic Women’s Club will meet 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, Tryon Branch Library, 1200 Langley Ave. The guest speaker is Michael Gilbert, professor of Government and History at Pensacola State College.